While it’s hard to predict how many games the Pinewood School boys basketball team will win next season under new coach Clint Ladine, it’s safe to assume that the Panthers will score plenty of points.
Hired this month, Ladine said he favors the run-and-gun style made famous by Paul Westhead when he coached Loyola Marymount University 30 years ago. Westhead’s Lions averaged an NCAA-record 122.4 points per game in 1990.
“It’s a fast-paced offense that allows all 12 guys (on the team) to play with confidence. They all have the green light (to shoot), so everyone is a threat,” Ladine said. “Defensively, we can help push the pace with difference presses, including man-to-man and half-court traps.”
Ladine has employed this style before – with great success. In his first and only other stint as a basketball coach, he guided San Francisco’s Burton High boys squad to a 47-39 record, a league championship and two playoff appearances in three seasons, over which the Pumas averaged nearly 62 points per game.
Burton went undefeated in the Academic Athletic Association his first season, 2014-15, and averaged a state-best 85.7 points per game. His son, guard Clayton Ladine, was the state’s top scorer, averaging 37.8 points per contest.
Although the Pumas didn’t average as many points per game the next season, dipping to 76.7, they lasted longer in the playoffs.
“The second year was the highlight when we went to the city championship and lost to Mission High, and we made the state playoffs,” the coach said.
Burton missed the playoffs in 2016-17, which proved to be Ladine’s last season at the helm. The school’s athletic director, who coached the team prior to Ladine, took his old job back.
“I didn’t want to leave there, but he wanted to coach again,” Ladine said. “It was unfortunate. I loved it there. My wife teaches there and we live nearby.”
Ladine met his wife at Bethany University, a since-closed college in Scotts Valley where he played point guard on the men’s basketball team.
“I loved it there,” said the Turlock native. “The coach was John Block, a former NBA player, and I learned a lot from him.”
Ladine also realized that he didn’t want his basketball career to end after graduation, so he went overseas to play professionally.
“I played in Australia for one year and Germany for five years, and it was a blast,” he said. “I married young and we went over there and had some of our kids.”
The father of five, Ladine has sent several of his kids to Pinewood girls basketball coach Doc Scheppler over the years to improve their shooting. It was Scheppler who told Ladine about the coaching vacancy. Three weeks after applying, Ladine landed the job.
“It was pretty quick, especially during these times,” said Ladine, who interviewed over the phone and via Zoom due to the coronavirus pandemic. “I’m happy with the result, and I’m itching to get into the gym.”
Pinewood athletic director Matt Stimson seemed just as eager to have him get started.
“He will be a great addition to our staff,” Stimson said, “and will bring leadership, poise and teamwork.”
He also brings a quick-trigger offense that will likely improve upon last season’s production. The Panthers averaged just 44.5 points per game in the West Bay Athletic League, the second-lowest output among the eight teams. They placed sixth in the WBAL with a 3-11 record (12-14 overall) in what would be Scott Alexander’s third and final year as coach. At season’s end, Pinewood “decided to move in a different direction,” Stimson said.
Ladine noted that the direction he will point the players in will probably be new to them.
“They’ll be learning to play with speed,” said Ladine, who holds a doctorate of strategic leadership from Regent University and works as a senior major gift officer for Sutter Health. “Players are used to being taught to play with restraint, and this is a little bit out of the box. I want the kids to play with confidence and an aggressive mindset. I want them to try to dictate our pace and style instead of reacting to what the other team is doing.”